Saturday 20 June 2015

Doom (Atari Jaguar review)

Developer: id Software
Publisher: Atari
Released: 1994

Doom is a first-person shooter that was released on MS-DOS a year after id Software's ground-breaking Wolfenstein 3D.

This Jaguar port consists of 24 levels and the premise is usually to locate coloured keys to open locked doors and eventually reach the exit. Unlike some other versions (3DO, 32X, SNES) this one features a full screen mode meaning the play area isn't cropped. While the Jaguar controller isn't particularly comfortable it does have one advantage. Instead of having to slowly cycle through weapons using a single button you can use the numbered keys on the bottom of the controller; each has an assigned weapon and if you have the overlay you can quickly tap the one you require. This is great as it allows you to make split second decisions against some of the tougher enemies. Each level is expertly designed (not to mention creepy!) and the further you advance the maps get more maze-like. Like Wolfenstein 3D there are tons of secret areas to locate that house extra weapons, armor and health. There are also a few boss battles that take place in large arenas; they're a nice change of pace and due to the amount of bullets required to kill them you'll have to use strategy instead of firing at will. The range of weapons is excellent and includes rocket launchers, shotguns and a chainsaw. Although the game is perfectly playable, the frame-rate is choppy and as a result you'll sometimes have to wrestle with the controls to line up with an enemy or a switch. There's no music during the gameplay and it leaves the experience feeling rather lifeless. There are some tracks once you finish a level but they sound awful and worse than the 32X version!

The definitive version of Doom is probably on the PS1 (1995) but this port is still very respectable. It does have some minor issues with the frame-rate and lack of music but the gameplay is still just as gripping and the lengthy campaign will have you playing for a while.

Random trivia: The reason for the lack of in-game music is that the Jaguar's DSP chip had to be used for a number of things such as collision detection. Attempting to play tracks during gameplay would have interfered with these other functions.

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